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Showing posts from May, 2011

Cliffsnotes On Curry And The UConn Health Center

Bill Curry, who twice ran for office as governor, has written for the Hartford Courant an op-ed titled “Reinvented UConn Health Center Is A Plan To Build Our Future On.” The Curry effusion appeared in the paper’s Sunday edition just before the politically rumbustious long holiday weekend.

Because Mr. Curry's prose tends to be both dense and sprightly at the same time, it occurs to me that the student of his set pieces might profit by the equivalent of political Cliffsnotes, and I have supplied some here at the risk of turning Mr. Curry’s poetic performance into stiff analytical prose. Mr. Curry has not been quite as active on the political scene in Connecticut as, say, Mr. Malloy – who, only months into his gubernatorial reign, threatens to approach former Attorney General Richard (now Dick) Blumenthal in ubiquity -- and the notes may be necessary.

Government Without Firewalls

Both Republican governors John Rowland and Jodi Rell used to refer to themselves as “firewalls,” usually after they had compromised with Democratic leaders in the General Assembly to pass budgets that present Governor Dannel Malloy has often characterized as bags of tricks and treats. Mr. Malloy has insisted that his budget, still being hammered out by his agents and representatives of unions, is, on the other hand, transparent and honest-- a good thing. No tricks or treats there. No smoke, no mirrors, the sort of budget one might expect from a governor wearing a white hat who is not the plaything of special interests.

The firewall disappeared altogether after Mr. Malloy became governor. The Rell-Rowland firewall was not fireproof. Had it been so, Connecticut’s bottom budget line could not have tripled within the space of three governors, and the state would not now rank first in the nation in per capita debt. It would not be losing jobs to New Jersey and New York and Massachusetts. …

How Sick Is Connecticut ?

The slow destruction of the state of Connecticut continues apace with the passage through the Senate on Wednesday of the Paid Sick Leave bill. Now on its way to the Democratic dominated House, the bill slipped through by a single vote, Republicans opposed and Democrats in favor, with some notable exceptions: Republican John Kissel of Enfield voted in favor of the bill, while five Democrats -- Sens. Gayle Slossberg of Milford, Paul Doyle of Wethersfield, Bob Duff of Norwalk, Joan Hartley of Waterbury and Andrew Maynard of Stonington — voted no.

"It is an imperfect bill,” Mr. Kissel said.” What we're about here is trying to pass legislation that has broad enough support to bring people together.''

The Paid Sick Leave bill now proceeds to the House, where passage is expected, and thereafter will be passed into law after having been signed by Governor Dannel Malloy, who lobbied wobbly senators in favor of the bill.

The bill featured prominently in Mr. Malloy’s gubernatori…

Healy’s Out

Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy confirmed on the Dan Lavallo Talk of Connecticut show that he does not intend to run for re-election.

In an ironic way, Healy, and all future chairpersons of both parties, may be the victims of party reform. Party chairmen are not what they used to be in the heyday of party bosses when giants – John Bailey in the Democratic Party and his compliment in the Republican Party, Meade Alcorn – ruled the roost with iron fists in velvet gloves.

Myths outlive reality, and the myth of the party chairman ruling autocratically by cleverly manipulating events in now smokeless back rooms has yet to succumb to reality.

Some in the Republican Party who continue to protest that Mr. Healy cleverly subverted the nominating convention to secure the nomination of Linda McMahon to the U.S. Senate -- apparently so that Mr. Healy’s wife, Susan Bibisi, could be put on Mrs. McMahon’s payroll – doth protest far too much on very slender evidence.

That said, it may or may not…

The Dannel Malloy State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition Complex

There is no termination date on the tax increase contract between taxpayers and the Malloy administration – because there is no written contract.

Some of the items in the contract to be signed by the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC), the state union coalition negotiating contracts with Governor Malloy, do have a termination date. For instance, the salaries of state union members, frozen for two years, will unfreeze thereafter and increase by 3% during the following three years.

In such precarious times, it must be liberating for state workers to know that the “shared sacrifice” of salary givebacks has a termination date affixed to it. Actuaries hired by the Malloy administration tell us that the temporary salary freeze will save the state $ 448,402,275, according to a budget fact sheet given out to the state’s media. Because the freeze terminates after two years, the savings to the state is itself temporary, while the salary increase of 9% over three years will be pe…

The May Fish Wrap

Green on Dannel, The Big Sizzle

After a brief flirtation, Rick Green, Courant columnist and blogger, has pretty much had it with the Republican Party.

Mr. Green switched parties not so long ago -- possibly from independent, the chosen designation of putative “objective” journalists, to Republican – so as to have the opportunity of voting in a Republican primary.

This was in the dark days before Dannel Malloy, then Dan Malloy, became governor and began “sizzling.”

The trouble with extended metaphors – “Malloy's Big Appetite: The Steak And The Sizzle” -- is that they’re a little like an unhappy marriage: Once you’ve made the proposal, you’re stuck with the consequences throughout the column.

Sunk in an unhappy metaphor, Mr. Green unfurls his true colors:

“Republicans, left to ponder the dubious vision of fringe legislators such as Len Suzio and Joe Markley, sustain themselves on the increasingly inane radio commentary of John Rowland, now elbowing his way back to the table. In real…

Financing The UConn Health Center Boondoggle

Continuing a policy of picking winners and losers, the Malloy administration has decided to throw dollars it does not have at the UConn Health Center, a losing proposition described in a news story written by reporter Chris Keating of the Hartford Courant in less than flattering terms.

Concerning UConn's continuing fiscal problems,” Mr. Keating wrote, “a longtime Capitol insider described the health center as ‘a burning tire around the state's neck.’

“The health center has had chronic financial problems, and the legislature has bailed out the Farmington institution four times since 2000. The huge infusion of funds often comes on the last day of the legislative session, which this year is June 8.”

Upon hearing that Mr. Malloy intends to spend $864 million on the health center, $136 million short of the $1 billion surplus Mr. Malloy and Democrats in the legislature furtively tucked into their budget, Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy, admittedly a partisan, said, “The UCon…

Coutu Enters U.S. Congressional Race

The late Bill Buckley announced the mission of National Review Magazine, a publication he started and still the best conservative nursery bed of ideas, when he pledged that NR would stand “athwart history, yelling STOP, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.”

Then as now, much of the nation – and nearly all of Connecticut – was a bastion of a fervent but mischievous liberalism. So, at National Review, there was much yelling of STOP over the years. Mr. Buckley, surely the most prolific conservative in the nation, lived for many years in Stamford, Connecticut in house nestled in a quiet cove but painted shocking pink. When his wife Pat, every inch Bill’s competitor in wit, was asked “Why pink?” she responded – “to attract the sailors.”

Although not always the case, Connecticut’s congressional delegation is, some people will have noticed, now entirely made up of liberals. Present U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy styles himself a progressive,…

Donovan The Bold

Yet another Connecticut politician – this time Sen. Joe Lieberman – has given up his sinecure in the U.S. Congress.

Mr. Lieberman follows former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd out the door. After pledging not to become a lobbyist, Mr. Dodd, shaking from his feet the dust of Washington D.C., has now become – ta! da! – a lobbyist. But not just any lobbyist. Mr. Dodd has covered himself in tinsellated glory and is now the chief lobbyist for the motion picture industry. Mr. Dodd sups with the stars, sure and begorrah. This year the former Beltway fixture missed Connecticut’s Jefferson, Jackson Bailey dinner.

Mr. Lieberman – on the outs with his party for being Joe – also missed the dinner. But Mr. Lieberman offered progressive Democrats his compliments by leaving office, which has opened a frequently shut door to present Speaker of the House Chris Donovan.

Mr. Donovan was seen at the JJB dinner this year sporting on his lapel a picture of a guitar – the Speaker is really a frustrated rock star – em…

The Real Budget Deal

Fresh from the Democratic Party’s web site, here is Democratic Party chieftain Nancy DiNardo’s reaction to the budget deal that Gov. Dannel Malloy wrested from union representatives:

“Thank you to Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Wyman, the state employees, and the Democratic leadership in the Assembly for this major accomplishment. This is a critical first step, and there is more work to do, but this is definitely a good day for Connecticut taxpayers. This is what shared sacrifice and real leadership looks like.” - Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo Though particulars of the deal were not revealed during the weeks of closed door negotiations, a broad outline of the Malloy administration-union deal, according to news reports, involved a union give back of $1.6 billion, $400 million short of Mr. Malloy’s earlier stated goal of $2 billion in the biennium budget. The savings shortfall is to be recovered from resources other than tax increases, according to the governor’s office.

Tucked into the presen…

French Socialist And Head Of The International Monetary Fund Arrested In New York On Sex Charges

It would appear from the charges leveled against M. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 67, leader of the International Monetary Fund and a possible candidate for President of France, that the prominent French Socialist just got a little bit too big for his britches.

Even unflappable France, a country that tends to wink at the indiscretions of its sometimes oversexed leaders, seemed abashed.

"It's a cross that will be difficult for him to bear," said Dominique Paille, a political rival to Strauss-Kahn on the center right. "It's totally hallucinating. If it is true, this would be a historic moment, but in the negative sense, for French political life.”

The Associated Press has reported:

“According to an account the woman [ a hotel maid] provided to police, Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway and pulled her into a bedroom, where he began to sexually assault her. She said she fought him off, then he dragged her into the bathroom, where he for…

On The Road Again?

In traveling about the state attempting to sell his budget at 17 Town Halls meetings, Governor Dannel Malloy may not have heard from Phil (not his real name). He’s an engineer, and engineers tend to maintain low profiles – unless you uncork them.

Dilbert, the much read and much loved comic character in the strip by Scott Adams, is an engineer, a worker hero constantly grappling with the vagaries of business in the good old US of A.

Phil's e-mail began with a reference to budget passed in the General Assembly and affirmed – with some significant changes – by a coalition of union leaders over the weekend. Phil is a stickler on what he calls “the math” of the budget. His emails are here reproduced in full and untouched.

Subject: gotta love it

I love reading about Democrats who have the courage to raise taxes.

I'm still having trouble with Malloy's math. So delaying raises for 2 years equals 1.6 Billion? The details to be named later should be interesting.

Some day you should d…

Here George Bush gently slaps Stephanopoulos upside the head

“Is that truth or gossip?”

Bysiewicz Revididus

Former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, now running for U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman’s soon to be vacated seat along side U.S. Rep Chris Murphy, may have had her front grill dented a bit in recent days, but it must be said the lady now is in fearsome forward motion.

Mrs. Bysiewicz has called for U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan as soon as practicable and, by so doing, got a jump on the laggard Mr. Murphy, who has been advertising himself in different venues as the progressive’s progressive.

The modern progressives, nearly all of them Democrats, not so long ago were bestirring themselves as anti-war zealots. Who can forget Cindy Sheehan’s often reported march on former President George Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch?

During the Bush presidency, the air crackled with fervent calls by then presidential campaigner Barack Obama to shut down the Iraq war shortly after the Petraeus surge had been launched. The progressives were hot on closing down GITMO, still open for business. A not yet dea…

The Trouble With Plan A

There were several things wrong with Plan B, the most important of which was that it was not proposed by the Malloy administration as a serious effort to control spending, the pink elephant in budget room. But Plan A as currently constructed does not control spending either, because spending in Connecticut is driven by entitlements, long term union contracts and binding arbitration, cost escalators left untouched by Plan A.

Plan B was never more than a pistol held to the temples of union negotiators who had resisted the gubernatorial dictates of Plan A.

Conceived as a threat, Plan B was presented to the general public as a threat, and its conception and presentation were received by the general public in the same spirit. Indeed, Governor Dannel Malloy and both leaders of the Democratic dominated General Assembly, President of the Senate Don Williams and Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, repeatedly and roundly condemned Plan B even as it was presented, as a cruel default budget plan.…

Dannel In Wonderland

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - - that's all."On the other side of the rabbit hole, we all know, things are upside down and inside out. Wonderland has an awesomely terrifying logic of its own, unrelated to the sensuous world. And that is why Humpty Dumpty can make words mean so many different things. The connection between words and things are irreparably broken in Wonderland, the very definition of madness.

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.

"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."

"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.

"You must be,&q…

Plan B Lifts Off

Governor Dannel Malloy today announced “After more than two months of talks, I'm afraid that my administration and the state employee unions have not reached agreement. Our talks have been respectful and forthright so far, and I remain willing to continue the discussions if the unions are willing to do so. However, we must all be willing to work toward a settlement that Connecticut taxpayers can afford in the long run.”

Negotiations between the governor’s office and union leaders were not entirely leak proof. There were indications that the talks had been going no where, but no one was willing to speak on the record. The sticking point from the union side was that negotiators were unwilling to succumb to the size of the givebacks, said to be $20,000 per year per state worker.

In the absence of an agreement – really more a capitulation than an agreement – Mr. Malloy announced today that lay off notices would be sent out immediately:

“I have directed OPM to begin issuing layoff notic…

Unconstitutional Budget? So What?

There is, so far, only one semi-official response to a recent suit brought by the Roger Sherman Liberty Center against a budget fashioned by Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democratic Party caucus in the General Assembly. Republicans were not permitted to handle the sausage during the budget process, which unfolded in private behind closed doors.

The liberty center argues that the budget is unconstitutional because, absent concessions from state labor unions, the budget is not in balance, as required by the state constitution.

There is no doubt the state constitution requires a balance budget. The constitutional language is unambiguous:

“The amount of general budget expenditures authorized for any fiscal year shall not exceed the estimated amount of revenue for such a fiscal year.”

There is no doubt the budget was not in balance at the time it was written into law and signed by Mr. Malloy. Negotiations between agents of Mr. Malloy and union leaders had not been concluded, and the union…

Connecticut’s Bluer than Blue Media: An Inquest

Robert Thorson is a professor of geology at the University of Connecticut's Liberal Arts and Sciences and a member of The Hartford Courant's Place Board of Contributors. His columns appear frequently on the paper’s op-ed pages.

The Liberal Arts at UConn are, as elsewhere in academia, very liberal.

Mr. Thorson is certain he knows how the rest of us will know when gas prices are “high enough.”

The attentive reader will notice that Mr. Thorson did not write “too high” but used the formulation “high enough.” That is because Mr. Thorson ardently believes that gas prices in Connecticut, now cresting above $4 and heading towards $5, are not as high as they should be.

The price of gas will be high enough, Mr. Thorson advised in a column published on May 5, 2011, when:
“… drive-through lanes at fast-food restaurants and doughnut shops would not be lined with mostly oversized vehicles carrying mostly oversized people toward food energy.

“…the carpool lanes on local interstates would not…